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Concordia University Irvine Reaches Hispanic-Serving Institution Designation

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

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Concordia University Irvine has reached Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation, administrators announced. With 25.79% of its undergraduate student body identifying as Hispanic or Latinx in the campus’ fall 2019 census, the private nonprofit university moves from emerging HSI status to designated HSI status, allowing it to compete for federal grants that serve low-income first-generation Hispanic students. The required threshold for HSI designation is 25%, set by the U.S. Department of Education.

Concordia University Irvine began to formalize its HSI efforts in 2016 in response to a growing Hispanic student population with its signature Latina Leadership Conference—a free half-day event designed for first-generation Hispanic young women in high school and community college and their parents. The conference draws students from school districts in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The inaugural keynote from the White House’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics set the tone for the conference’s ongoing theme—college is not a dream, it’s a plan.

While Concordia University Irvine currently offers student services such as academic tutoring and a summer bridge program, with HSI funding, university organizers aim to expand those programs as well as establish new ones. Administrators will be developing a mentoring program made up of first-generation faculty and staff who know what it’s like to be the first in their families to graduate from college. Program plans include scholarship workshops and initiatives that equip professors in the classroom, ultimately leading to successful graduation for students. The university is also working with local nonprofit youth development organizations which offer after-school college readiness programs to their primarily low-income Latinx students. Administrators anticipate applying for the HSI grant around fall 2022 after it has met two other thresholds required by the U.S. Department of Education.

Granted by the U.S. Department of Education to nonprofit two-year and four-year colleges and universities—public or private—with a 25% or higher Hispanic student population and more than half receiving financial aid, HSI designation allows institutions to compete for federal grants that fund faculty professional development, curriculum development, and student services. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are more than 490 colleges and universities designated as HSIs in the United States and Puerto Rico. In California, nearly all Cal States and half of community colleges and half of University of California campuses have received HSI designation. Concordia University Irvine would be the second faith-based HSI university in Orange County, following Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. Nearby University of California, Irvine received HSI designation in May 2017. According to a 2018 report by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, a national advocacy group, one in three students at Christian colleges and universities are first-generation, or the first in their family to earn a college degree. The U.S. Labor Department estimates that by 2024, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. workforce will be Hispanic.

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